Ringwood A Auxiliary Unit Patrol
This page was last updated at 6:44pm on 14/3/13
Thank you for selecting information on the Ringwood A Auxiliary
Unit Patrol located in Hampshire. The info below has been compiled by Dr Will Ward CART CIO for
Research into this patrol and its training is ongoing. The information below is published
from various sources and is by no means conclusive. If information is not
listed below it does not necessarily mean the information is not out there but normally means
CART researchers have not found it yet.
If you have any information on this patrol or can help with research in this area please do
The patrol was part of Group 1 in Hampshire, Commanded by Captain A J Champion, who was also area commander for
all the West Hampshire groups. The assistant commander of Group 1 was Lt L D C Ayles. The Probert family remember
both Champion and Ayles being involved.
Not known by CART.
|Sgt. Leslie Charles "Elsie" Probert
|Pte. John Rutland Probert
||Joined August 1941
|Pte. R Pritchard
||Joined June 1943
|Pte. William S Stephenson
||Joined April 1942
|Pte. William Charles Crutcher
||Joined June 1942
The patrol names for the west of Hampshire and the New Forest have been identified from National Archives file
WO199/3391, but are not divided by patrol. The nominal roll gives the surname, initials, ID card number and
address, together with date of birth. The patrols have been arranged according to the addresses and ID card numbers
around known patrol leaders. This means the allocations may not be completely accurate. Additional personal
information such as first names and dates of death have been added using the 1911 census, Ancestry.com and
Elsie Probert was a butcher with a shop on Southampton Road, Ringwood. His nickname came from the sound of the
initials of his name. Some of the patrol supplies were reportedly kept at the butchers shop where the family lived
for the early part of the war. These included the rum jar, which was dropped and smashed by Elsie Probert’s 14 year
old son Peter, who particularly remembers the trouble he got into for this! Other “iron rations” were stored there
as well. John Probert, was almost Elsie’s eldest son who helped out in the shop and joined the unit when he was 18.
He wasn’t eligible for call up apparently due to flat feet, but served with Auxiliary Units instead. He tended to
be in charge of the shop most of the time as Elsie was also a meat agent for the Ministry of Food, which involved
travelling all over Hampshire, including the Isle of Wight. Both seem to have been quite secretive about what they
were up to and rarely mentioned it, even after the war and even then usually only in vague terms. It was said that
a requirement of membership was the ability to swim the river in full kit. This surprised Elsie’s children who
didn’t think he could have managed this.
Bill Stephenson was the local chemist. His shop was just three doors down from the Probert’s butcher shop on
Ringwood road. The Butchers was alongside Woolworth’s and had a pillbox outside.
R Pritchard isn’t known for certain to have been a member of the patrol, but in the nominal roll, his address
has been switched for John Probert’s, with the men being one beneath the other in the handwritten roll. This
suggests they were in the same unit as the men seem to have been added to each alphabetical page in unit order.
William Charles Crutcher isn’t remembered by the Probert family by name. However, Mary remembers an incident
where one of the patrol members was shot in the foot accidentally while in the Operational Base. Her mother was not
best pleased that a man had been hurt and she said that they were nothing more than stupid schoolboys! William
Crutcher put in a claim after the war for a disability pension, something he could only have done if injured in
training. Therefore it seems likely he was the man who was injured.
Bill Stephenson became a president of Ringwood Rotary club after the war, an honour also achieved by 3 other
members of Auxiliary Units from the Ringwood area.
There was an underground bunker in the vicinity of Hangersley Hill, which Elsie’s daughter learnt about when
confronted at the breakfast table one morning. Her father had been able to see that she had been in the area with a
soldier the night before as he had been training at the OB and took her to task over the matter.
Peter Probert recalls that there was an underground bunker in the woods near Somerley House. It is known that
there was a unit there, so the men may have trained together.
These are likely to have included the airfield at Ibsley.
The patrol are known to have trained at Avon Castle, also known
to have been used by other patrols in the area. They used thunderflashes in training. They may also have met up
with the Somerley patrol to train on the estate.
The patrol would conduct the training practices outlined here
The Proberts are known to have had revolvers and a knuckleduster as these were brought home. Detonators, hand
grenades and ammunition were stored in a garage near the house. The patrol would generally have the weapons shown
Personal correspondence with Matt, Peter and Mary Probert, grandson and children respectively of Leslie